The purpose I am contacting you is to share a personal story that I experienced in 2016 that shows the importance of vulnerability and gives hope to the many who have lived through a similar experience. To make a long story short, I got affiliated with a popular cult in Germany and was raped by the leader.
My name is Miles Witt and I am not the typical person who would fall into the category of victims of rape. As a 6’5 rugby player, I have felt very shameful about my experience because what can be more damaging to my masculinity? I suppressed my trauma by ignoring it’s existence for about a year until a lady named Nicole Braddock Bromley came to my College as a guest speaker and did a 2 day workshop based off of her life story and book, Hush. The book was about sexual abuse and reaching out to those who have been abused. The core message was how vulnerability is the best medicine for life traumas, especially sexual abuse.
The organization known as Bhakti Marga is led by the famous mahamandaleshwar Swami Vishwananda. His movement is very similar to Osho if you are familiar with the mini Netflix series Wild, Wild Country. There are a lot of parallels between that show and Bhakti Marga. His message seems powerful and moving, but what is coexisting amongst his “love and light” teaching is very sickening. I am fed up with hiding this from the world, and everyone at the very least deserves to know what is happening.
The beginning of me finding Vishwananda was ironically a result of one of the best decisions I have made in my life, becoming sober. I was an alcoholic, but also regularly using heavy drugs; cocaine, LSD and MDMA… I was so addicted it became a lifestyle and crutch to lean on for the pain I endured through my childhood. After I stopped using, I started searching. I was unsure what I was searching for, but I looked hard! It all began with yoga which then led to meditation. As I grew to grasp a liking to this new hobby, I reached out to family friends, which eventually pointed me in the direction of the US country coordinator of Bhakti Marga. It is insane how something so dark can be right in our backyard. Within 3 months of getting sober and then hearing about a spiritual teacher, Swami Vishwananda, I decided to fly over to Germany because I honestly had nothing to lose.
At first, Vishwananda was so nice, personable, and bright. He treated me very kindly by inviting me to his ‘bungalow’ for dinner very frequently. He gave me a lot of words of encouragement, and was really pulling me to stay. From my understanding, this doesn’t happen to everyone right off the bat, but when it does, they seem to be young males. In hindsight, the scenes at the bungalow were very patriarchal; there was never a woman at the lunch or dinner table with us, only males.
One key aspect of this story that I cannot emphasize enough is the extent of which people who live in the ashram believe Vishwananda is God. I was told stories of him healing, bringing people back to life, manifesting statues out of his chest, and the list goes on and on. He knows everything you are thinking. Followers believe Vishwananda is the incarnation of Krishna, Christ, Buddha, and then some. He. Is. God!
Before I knew it, I went through the initiation process for this cult which included spiritual ceremonies and being branded on both of my shoulders. I would like to make it clear that it was completely my choice on becoming initiated, and I truly believed by doing this I would be saved and protected by God himself.
Here is a brief description of what it was like during the moment without being graphic.
One evening during dinner, Vishwananda was demanding a few people to leave at a time. The next thing I know it is just him and I. He then brought me back to his room claiming he wanted to show me something. He went to the bathroom and came back only wearing a bathrobe. He put his hand over my head, murmured a ‘blessing’ in a different language, then claimed that I now can “touch him everywhere”. He was very insistent on where he wanted to be touched and at this point, I was so fearful of not doing as God wishes, I must. He then turned me around and had his way. Never have I been sexually attracted to a man nor wish this to become true. I was brainwashed and manipulated. So, out of fear I did not protest against God himself.
On the flip side, people within the organization would say, “everything he does is for the betterment of you, even if it is inappropriate.”
After doing some research, I found there to be a huge fall that occurred in 2008 all due to his sexual relations with his so to be ‘celibate devotees’. Once it went public amongst the Organization, Vishwananda released all of his followers to leave if they wished. What does not add up is that there never came to be any legal action done, which I am unsure on the reasoning. And for those who stayed through that time now know and accept what Vishwananda does with his devotees. These followers are perceived as ones who show ‘true devotion’ towards the master (I will leave links on the bottom with a brief description of the blogs/experiences other people have gone through as well.)
My story is raw, real and has a way of relating to those who have gone through some horrific experiences in life. And by putting it on a stage that is so widely heard, I think it would make it possible to stop this from happening to others in the future.